(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – On Friday, February 3, 2012, at 8 p.m., MASS MoCA is the site for the debut of Zammuto, the newest project from Nick Zammuto, co-founder of the sonically and visually innovative (and North Adams-based) band The Books. Previously, as part of The Books, Zammuto received widespread critical acclaim and made great strides on the national level, touring extensively supporting major tours and headlining as well. The Zammuto debut concert begins with a screening of the 35-minute film Achantè, for which he wrote the score.
Achantè, directed by Emily McMehen and Geoffrey Sautner, is an intimate, rhythmic portrait of Haitian Vodou featuring four communities in the south of Haiti. It parallels the Vodou creation story with the historical creation of the free nation of Haiti. There is little dialogue, so the film relies heavily on Zammuto’s score to communicate the overall feel.
Zammuto elaborates on the writing process: “As the composer, I was awestruck by these images of ‘possession.’ They are extremely intense, but instead of being dark or scary, I found a palpable sense of humanity and joy.”
Zammuto’s previous outfit, the Books, performed multiple sold-out performances at MASS MoCA, including the memorable packed-to-the-rafters slot on opening night of the first Solid Sound Festival. The Books’ sound is characterized as sound collage, applying a cut and paste aesthetic, meticulously combining field recordings from old vinyl and cassettes with acoustic sources for a sound that is innovative as well as organic.
Pitchfork describes the appeal of their technique: “Their music is easy to appreciate immediately because they use pretty sounds – it’s not harsh, noisy, they use space.” While still influenced by the sound collages created by the Books, in this new band Zammuto is gearing the sound more toward a traditional rock band with the incorporation of drums, which were rarely heard in past performances, and he will focus more on his composition skills.
Zammuto is a four-piece band with Nick Zammuto on vocals, guitar, and electronics, former Books member Gene Back playing a multitude of instruments, Sean Dixon on percussion, and Mike Zammuto on bass. As with The Books, this Zammuto show will include a tightly integrated video projection, synched rhythmically with the performance. The show will focus on songs by the new band as well as classics from The Books and some never-before-performed Books numbers.
Nick Zammuto’s previous film work includes the HBO documentary In A Dream, which earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement In A Craft: Music & Sound; Biosphere 2 directed by Shawn Rosenheim; and textural sketches made for a BBC radio play titled Bring me the head of Phillip K. Dick.
Tickets for the debut of Zammuto with the screening of Achantè are $20 in advance, $24 the day of the performance, and $10 for students. Members are eligible for a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located on Marshall Street in North Adams, open from 11AM to 5PM every day but Tuesdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or online at MASS MoCA at any time.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA is an independent 501c(3) whose operations and programming are funded through admissions and commercial lease revenue, corporate and foundation grants, and individual philanthropy. Except for an initial construction grant from the Commonwealth, and competitive program and operations grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MASS MoCA is privately funded: 90% of annual operating revenues are from earned revenues, membership support, and private gifts and grants